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Policy Development - Road Pricing
#1
The subject of road pricing to reduce congestion and pollution regularly raises its head, most recently in The Economist(Aug 5-11th 2017).

As a policy it meets the Liberal criteria of taxing a limited resource, ie road space, therefore rationing its availability for the wider good, namely a more efficient road network.

Road pricing can be used to combat pollution, fund transport or simply act as a form of taxation to fund expenditure not directly related to its source, as happens with a majority of vehicle related revenue at the moment.

Unfortunately the desire to better improve the efficiency of our road network and the wider environment comes up against a number of fundamental obstacles.

Firstly people are unlikely agree to pay further to drive their vehicle after they have already paid road tax, heavy fuel duties and VAT on the actual vehicle itself, and road pricing risks a public backlash. This was in part the reason for the withdrawal of a proposed trial scheme in the Netherlands in 2011.

Car ownership is often essential for work and domestic purposes and road pricing is potentially unaffordable to many people particularly in a period of stagnate wage growth.

The Thatcherite manta of the car is an expression of personal freedom and status means that people are unwilling to leave the car at home when public transport is still derided socially as second class, expensive and demeaning and often overcrowded.

The wider use of public transport will only become acceptable once it meets and exceeds people’s expectations for timeliness and convenience. Bus services outside most large towns and cities finish at 6pm, as I discovered on a recent visit to my parents east coast home.

Better fuel efficiency is reducing revenue from petrol sales, and shared ownership will ultimately reduce the number of vehicle, and hence vehicle excise duty.

Road pricing offers a mechanism for making up the shortfall, but without addressing the wider issue of re-directing vehicle derived revenue to none-vehicular expenditure such as the NHS and education.

Road pricing might offer a solution to one emerging issue where by the London emissions scheme is being undermined by private hire vehicle’s and Uber drivers entering the inner zone on a one off payment, and then circulating inside for protracted periods of time.

The technology for road pricing, be it black box devices or digital number plate recognition exists, and continues to be refined, however public acceptance is the most intractable obstruction.

Any road pricing scheme portrayed by its distractors as a ‘stealth tax’ to fund revenue shortfalls will quickly succumb to public pressure. A successfully implementation will only occur when all revenues are seen to be going back into either public transport schemes or road network.
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#2
Am very much against this. For myself, I see just another stealth tax, as you see in the congestion charge in London.
We really do not have a congestion problem, we have a school/commute issue.

The car user has a road tax, fuel tax, and local tax, not to mention income tax.

A whole re-think has to be done.
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